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Apr 03

Check out my tumblr page for more posts from “That’s Swell!”

I’ve joined tumblr as an extension of my blog. It’s called “Reel Swell Gazette.” I will post everything I can’t schedule on “That’s Swell!” on tumblr. I’m talking about meme’s like: Top Ten Tuesdays, Teaser Tuesdays, and Waiting on Wednesday. Also, my own features such as: Book Cover Crush, Book Trailer Thursday and Extra! Extra! Read All About It! With so many books to review, doing author interviews, and participating in several blog tours it’s hard for me to schedule it all on “That’s Swell!” So, I decided to spread my wings further into cyberspace. Feel free to make comments on my tumblr posts. Comments are through Disqus. Oh, and my illustrations will be posted on there as well. Yeah, I draw too. I’m a jack-of-all-trades!

On “Reel Swell Gazette” I posted my Teaser Tuesday from The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigani!

If you get a chance…check out my interview with Adriana on HuffPost! The Shoemaker’s Wife comes out today! If you’re looking for a historical star-crossed romance inspired by a true story then check it out! I’m reviewing TSW via TLC Book Tours on April 16th.

I also apologize for not doing much blog hopping! Several of you stopped by my blog on Friday. I appreciate it and will stop by your blog this week! I was swamped with the author interview and other stuff. Also, I might have a new review gig. If so…I’ll let you guys know the scoop soon!

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Mar 13

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Partners in Crime by Kim Harrington

(Feel free to use my meme button but please just link back to me. Thanks!)

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating!

PARTNERS IN CRIME (Sleuth or Dare #1)
By: Kim Harrington
Publisher: Scholastic
Pub. Date: May 1, 2012
Formats: Paperback
Pages: 192
Genre: MG Mystery
Age Group: Middle Grade +

Follow Kim Harrington on: Twitter | Website | goodreads
Order PARTNERS IN CRIME on: Amazon | B&N | TBD | IB

Publisher’s Synopsis: Whodunit?

When best friends Darcy and Norah have to create a fake business for a school assignment, they come up with a great idea: a detective agency! Darcy loves mysteries, and Norah likes helping people, so it’s a perfect fit.

But then their pretend agency gets a real case. Someone is missing, and it’s up to Darcy and Norah to take on the search. Unfortunately, there’s someone else out there who doesn’t want the two detectives stirring up any trouble. . . .

With the help of hidden clues, spy gadgets, and trusted friends, can Darcy and Norah crack the case in time?

Why am I “waiting on” this book?

I always love a good mystery story — be it MG, YA or Adult. I’m so happy to see that 2012 (and 2013 — yes, I’m thinking that far ahead) have some stellar mysteries for young people on the horizon. I’m looking so forward to PARTNERS IN CRIME and glad May is coming soon. Gosh, I can’t believe that! Wasn’t it just January? Anyway…the novel looks super cute! And the cover is absolutely adorable! There’s hidden clues and spy gadgets! Count me in 🙂 I also like that the three books are being released three months apart.

What are you “waiting on” reading?

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Mar 13

TLC Book Tours: Dear Diary Review of This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

By: Helen Schulman
Publisher: Harper Perenniel
Pub. Date: August 2011
Formats: Hardback, Paperback and Electronic
Pages: 222
Genre: Contemporary
Age Group: Adults
Source: Publisher

Follow Helen Schulman on: Website | goodreads
Purchase THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE on: Amazon | B&N | TBD | IB

Goodreads Synopsis: When fifteen-year-old Jake Bergamot receives—and then forwards to a friend—a sexually explicit video that an eighth-grade admirer sent to him, the video goes viral within hours. The scandal that ensues threatens to shatter his family’s sense of security and identity—and, ultimately, their happiness. This Beautiful Life is a devastating, clear-eyed portrait of modern life that will have readers debating their assumptions about family, morality, and the choices we make in the name of love.

Review: I’d like to first thank HarperCollins  for sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman is told from various viewpoints, but mainly the POV of a mother and wife, Elizabeth Bergamot who lives in New York City with her family. Elizabeth is happy with her life — her husband is successfully working at a university, her son Jake is turning sixteen and becoming a man before her eyes; and her daughter Coco, a precocious little kindergartener who they recently adopted from China.

The story opens up with a prologue of a shocking scene of young girl taking a sexually graphic video of herself for a boy. As Elizabeth states in the first chapter, it all began with a party. It takes a while to lead up to that party and the plot — the video being e-mailed to Jake which turns the family’s life upside down.

At the party, yeah, we finally get there, we find out that girl’s name is Daisy and she’s 13. Jake knows this, but because he’s drunk, he makes out with her. Big mistake! Through his drunken stupor, he realizes this isn’t right for him , she’s way too young. Daisy tries pushing herself onto Jake, but he rejects her, which upsets Daisy. When Jake gets home, he discovers the video sent by Daisy herself on his computer. Jake is rather disgusted by it and doesn’t know what to do. So, he stupidly sends the video to his friend who, of course, sends it just about everyone else. By the next day, the video is virtually — everywhere.

The premise of how the Bergamot’s deal with the issue is an interesting one and the reason I wanted to read it. However, there were many things that bothered me about the novel and I, also,  became bored. THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE wasn’t for me.

Despite the book being 222 pages, it takes almost half the novel to get up to the bread and butter of the story. I was rubbed the wrong by the narrator’s tone and style. It’s filled with unnecessary minutia that I believe drags the story down. The novel has received a lot of hype. While reading it I kept wondering what I was missing.

Elizabeth is too self-absorbed with trying to make it in her new life among high society, especially Coco’s “rise” in her kindergarten class, such as attending a sleep over at the Plaza hotel. Even the name Coco is too pretentious – at least for the story. I don’t mean to offend people out there named Coco, it’s just my opinion. But the name bothered me to no end. Usually character names don’t trouble me, but this name did. Maybe it’s because the parents and the son have not so unusual names. It also made Coco stand out.  Jake should be the one standing out in the story.

The other thing that bothered me was how Elizabeth knows every little detail and factor about her son’s life to the point I felt nauseous. She was too much in his head, as well as Coco and Richard’s head. I found all this all this distracting from the very solid premise.

I would have liked the story better if it had been from Jake’s entire perspective. Isn’t it ultimately Jake’s story? Nope. It’s Elizabeth’s, which would have been fine had she not gotten on my nerves. I liked Jake the best out of all the characters. Even though the characters struggle with the issues in the novel — the legality of the video, press coverage up the wazoo (way overdone realistically), and Jake’s emotional well-being, I couldn’t relate to them. The parents seemed to care more about themselves than their son. His dad at one point calls him a failure. Your son has gone through this traumatic experience and you call him a failure?

I also didn’t like how Daisy becomes famous at her school and soaks it up like a sponge, and the kids at the school pat Jake on the back, which bothers him — he’s not a hero, but an innocent victim. It is disturbing. At the end, Daisy still thinks Jake is the one to blame and should apologize. He should should apologize? Ummm…I don’t think so.

Yes, Schulman does a good job describing family dynamics and the Bergamot’s fractured one. But still,  the whole thing fell short for me, leaving me very disappointed! I was so looking forward to reading this book. The novel’s narrative is too melodramatic to make me want to continue reading, but I did. Some of it went on and on, to the point I wanted to scream — get to the point! The novel wraps up abruptly. It’s somewhat of a jolt, particularly after all the drawn out sentences and descriptions of the Bergamot’s world.

If THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE sounds interesting to you, then you may just like it. Give it a shot.

I’m giving THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE 2.5 “Diaries” being definitely not what I expected and it not living up to the hype.









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Mar 10

The {Teen} Book Scene: Into the Past with Elisa Ludwig

By: Elisa Ludwig
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: March 13, 2012
Formats: Hardcover and Electronic
Pages: 358
Genre: YA Contemporary
Age Group: Young Adults +
Source: Publisher
Follow Elisa Ludwig on: Twitter | Website | goodreads
Purchase PRETTY CROOKED on: Amazon | B&N | TBD | IB

Publisher’s Synopsis: Willa’s secret plan seems all too simple: take from the rich kids at Valley Prep and give to the poor ones.

Yet Willa’s turn as Robin Hood at her ultra-exclusive high school is anything but. Bilking her “friends”-known to everyone as the Glitterati-without them suspecting a thing, is far from easy. Learning how to pick pockets and break into lockers is as difficult as she’d thought it’d be. Delivering care packages to the scholarship girls, who are ostracized just for being from the “wrong” side of town, is way more fun than she’d expected.

The complication Willa didn’t expect, though, is Aidan Murphy, Valley Prep’s most notorious (and gorgeous) ace-degenerate. His mere existence is distracting Willa from what matters most to her-evening the social playing field between the have and have-nots. There’s no time for crushes and flirting with boys, especially conceited and obnoxious trust-funders like Aidan.

But when the cops start investigating the string of burglaries at Valley Prep and the Glitterati begin to seek revenge, could he wind up being the person that Willa trusts most?


with Elisa Ludwig on What Books Her Past Self Would Recommend at Ages 5, 11, 16, and 20:

Age 5: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. Of all the picture books I read on my own as an early reader, this one stands out because it was funny and relatable and fun to read out loud. Viorst does a great job of capturing the things that matter to kids.

Age 11: Pardon Me You’re Stepping on My Eyeball by Paul Zindel. Paul Zindel’s books were so quirky and odd, and I especially loved the depiction of these two outsider kids who find each other amid the crazy world of high school.

Age 16: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I went through a serious Vonnegut phase in my junior year of high school. This book, about a car dealer who becomes obsessed with the novels of a pulp science fiction writer, remains one of my favorites.

Age 20: Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel. A writing teacher in college alerted me to the brilliance of Amy Hempel and I have been a huge fan ever since. These short stories are sharp, surprising and heartbreaking.

Thanks so much for having me, Julie! I enjoyed this look back at favorites books.

Thanks, Elisa!

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